By now you may well be growing weary of reading phrases like ‘the new normal’ and ‘[insert name of thing] is going to look very different this year’ so we’ll try not to use them in this update about what Fantasy Baseball UK is planning for the 2021 baseball season. The good news is that we are keen to run the fantasy league again, plus we’re launching new website forums, but the format of the game will look diff… well, it’s changing. We’ve taken some screen space below to explain the situation in some detail…
Those of you who played Fantasy Baseball UK in 2019 will probably remember the “mega-glitch” (apologies for the use of technical language) that occurred at the end of August that year whereby player salary valuations inexplicably returned to their opening valuations at the start of the season. Although we were able to correct the valuations on the Stats page, the reversal was not carried over completely to individual fantasy teams’ rosters, leaving many with incorrect player salaries compared to what they were prior to the glitch, which in turn affected the team’s overall salary budget. As you know, a specific player’s salary on a particular fantasy roster will vary depending on the valuation at the date the player was added onto the roster. Ultimately, we decided to end the game a month early that season.
There were several other technical problems that year, including:
- At least one team lost a bunch of fantasy points midway through the season
- Recurring incomplete or inaccurate player stats or points updates
- Some of the subsequent manual stats corrections wouldn’t stick
- The question of how to adapt the website’s scoring system to handle the trend for MLB teams using openers (when one of the usual relief pitchers would start the game to get the first few outs before handing over either to a long reliever or the usual starting pitcher)
Due to those technical problems combined with a change of personnel running the game, FBUK initially decided to take the 2020 season off in order to spend some time on fixing and hopefully bringing back the game at a later date. (Read more about it here)
As it turned out, the Coronavirus pandemic also happened, meaning a much shorter Major League Baseball season than usual. FBUK ran an alternative version of the fantasy league through the Yahoo Sports platform, which worked quite well.
Much time was spent in 2020 unsuccessfully trying to fix the technical issues and encountering more in the process. Due to the change of personnel running the game, we needed to transfer the game files and database from the old website server to a new one. Doing so would require quite a lot of code updates just to get the original functions of the game compatible with the newer server (before even starting to tackle the repairs). In addition, something went wrong with the database migration, resulting in key parts of database missing that, again, were needed to replicate the game on the new server. To be honest, all this felt like a sign!
Unfortunately, on evaluation, it was felt the level of work and likely cost that would be needed to resurrect the original game in a reliable form was beyond the time and expertise of the current volunteer ‘team’ (currently consisting of one person!) and the game’s virtually non-existent budget. Instead, FBUK will take a new direction and continue the game built around the Yahoo fantasy baseball platform we were able to test out last summer.
Yahoo uses the common system of an initial draft for managers to build their rosters. Managers take turns to pick an MLB player and a player can only appear on one fantasy team’s roster within each league. There is no team salary budget or player salary value. After the draft, undrafted players remaining can then be added or swapped onto rosters via waivers. Players can also be traded between fantasy teams through the season.
We realise the long-running unique FBUK format – built around a player salary valuation system and a maximum team salary budget rather than the usual draft – will be missed. If it had been realistically possible in the circumstances to bring it back, we would obviously have preferred that.
However, moving to the new format allows FBUK and its community to continue, which has now spanned three different decades and is looking ahead to its 18th season. As Yahoo Sports is well established in running fantasy baseball formats (and is the official fantasy platform of MLB), it provides a ready-made, professionally supported and developed, reliable basis for our fantasy league going forward, which should be a plus for both fantasy managers and the league’s administrators alike!
For those managers who like frequent fiddling with their rosters, Yahoo provides a range of tools for viewing player profiles, comparing stats and useful regular updates on player performance and injury status (whereas in 2019 some of the CBS player news feeds seemed to go a spell of weeks during the season without being refreshed). There’s also the option of using the Yahoo fantasy baseball mobile app to manage your team on the go.
Once the decision to proceed with Yahoo was made, it meant the further time and effort that would have been spent trying to fix the old game – with no guarantee of success – could instead be spent working on other areas of the FBUK website instead. Most notably, we’re announcing the launch of the new FBUK Forums, replacing the long-running forums that had to be closed midway through last year when the old website was shut down. Although FBUK is on social media these days, the old-school website forum still seems to be the best way for fantasy managers to discuss the game, technical queries and baseball more generally.
As we have had to rebuild the forums and website account system from scratch, it means that you will need to register a new account to log in to the new forums. However, there is the option to connect with your Yahoo account, which fantasy managers might prefer as they will use a Yahoo account to play in the fantasy league itself. Not only will you be able to use the same login details for both the FBUK and Yahoo fantasy baseball websites, it should make hopping between your Yahoo fantasy baseball account and your FBUK Forums account fairly seamless.
We’ve started added some tips to the updated Help page on getting set up on the forums.
With MLB Spring Training currently scheduled to start later this month on 27 February, and Opening Day on 1 April, suddenly baseball doesn’t seem too far away. As Fantasy Baseball UK prepares for what we hope will be a full or close-to-full 2021 season, we encourage you to join the FBUK Forums and get involved in the conversation!
There will be more updates as Opening Day gets closer. As ever, stay safe!